July 01, 2013 | Matt Kucinski

Mercy Anguah is interning in Washington D.C.

Every summer, hundreds of Calvin students scatter across the U.S. and around the world, researching, interning and exploring. This summer, some of these students are keeping us informed about their adventures. Next up: senior Mercy Anguah of Tema, Ghana, an economics major at Calvin College. This summer, Mercy landed an internship in the nation's capital.

Where are you?

I am in Washington D.C.

Why are you there?

I am interning at the D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs

What’s your typical day like?

I get up around 7:45, get ready, grab a quick breakfast and I am out of the door by 8:45. I then head to the metro station which is just two blocks from my apartment. I ride the metro for about 30-40 minutes, and I am at my desk by 9:30. I check my e-mail to see if there are any tasks that need my immediate attention. I work on a project that I have been assigned to most of the time. Apart from that, I work on constituent cases, French translation reviewing or other administrative tasks that my supervisor assigns to me until I leave at 5:30.

What (technically) are you doing?

I work as the outreach intern for the Office on African Affairs (OAA). The OAA serves as a principle liaison office for the District’s African community and the Mayor as well as a multitude of District government agencies in order to improve the quality of life of African immigrants, increase their civic and public engagement and support community development. As the outreach intern, I respond to constituent requests and work on strengthening the agency’s existing relationships in the community, and extending its network and visibility. I do this by engaging the diverse facets of the African community in the District: residents, businesses, faith-based organizations and community-based organizations. I am also integrally involved with language access-related work (specifically French) of the office as mandated by the Language Access Act of 2004.

What (in layperson's terms) are doing?

We work as a social, economic, educational and governmental support system for D.C.’s large and very diverse African immigrant community.

How has Calvin prepared you for this?

Through the many economics and development classes I have taken at Calvin. Also, my French classes and my semester abroad in France have helped a lot with the French-related aspects of my work. Finally, my work as the past vice president of Calvin’s African Students’ Association has immensely helped by providing me with valuable experience and skills to work in this area.

What has surprised you so far?

Well just about everything is new and surprising to me. However, I am most surprised by just how very diverse the life, people and culture in D.C. are. People from all around the globe, with varying professions, cultures and stories live and work together in this small area.

How do you see this shaping your future?

This has definitely given me a broader and global perspective on life in general. Getting to connect and network with people from different backgrounds and being introduced to their worldviews and ideas is an invaluable learning experience.

Best thing you’ve eaten?

Ethiopian food. I had dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and it was wonderful!

Best picture you’ve taken?

I took a picture from the balcony of the topmost floor of the Newseum.  From there you can see all of Pennsylvania Avenue laid out around you. It is a beautiful sight!

What’s gone wrong?

Well… there was a thunderstorm warning a little over a week ago.  Most people were very worried and were trying to get home as fast as possible. Having lived in Grand Rapids for three years I thought it would not be that big of a deal and that I would be fine … I was wrong. The moment I left the office there was a sudden unbelievably fierce downpour and there I was… umbrella broken from the force, completely drenched and trying to find the nearest metro station.

Met anybody memorable?

I have attended a number of lectures and seminars here in DC. The most memorable people I have met would be Professor George Ayittey, who is a Ghanaian economist and widely recognized authority on political economics development in Africa and Ambassador Rick Barton who is a United States diplomat and currently serves as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the U.S. Department of State.

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